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Which is Best New Tablet: Fire HD or Nook?

Amazon has one of the best selling, top rated line of tablets with their Fire HD series. The Fire tablets have also been the best option for dual purpose eReader and tablet combination. Barnes & Noble released their new Nook 10.1 to go up against the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet . This is our review on the 10-inch tablets, Fire HD versus Nook.

We’ll look at the features, prices and usability for both these devices and see which comes out the winner.

FYI – if you are looking for an eBook eReader, check out: Which is Best eBook eReader: Kindle Paperwhite or Nook?

Price – Fire HD

At $130, the new Nook 10.1 is $20 cheaper than the Fire HD 10 list price. But Amazon is big on the specials, and for the holidays Fire are selling for $100 (that’s $50 off the usual price, nice!)

Screen – Tie

Nook now has its largest display ever at 10.1 inches, measured diagonally. This puts it at the same screen size as the Fire HD. Both displays have excellent quality and color rendering. And across all the major specifications, these are pretty much identical:

  •  10.1 inch screen dimensions
  • 1080p Full HD Display (1920 x 1200) Resolution
  • 224 pixels-per-inch (ppi)
  • Screen technology is LCD “IPS” (In Plane Switching)

Memory – Tie

The Nook comes with 32GB on-board memory, and you can add up to 256GB with an optional microSD card.

Similarly, the base model Fire also has 32 GB  of internal storage and a microSD slot for up to 256 GB of expandable storage. For about $40 more, you can double the Fire on-board memory to 64 GB.

You can get a SanDisk 128GB microSD Memory Card for about $20. They have an “Amazon Certified” one for Fire Tablets and Fire TV, but it will also work with the Nook and other devices. It has Class 10 performance for Full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, and you can also play apps or games direct from the card.

Cameras – Nook

Both tablets have a both a front-facing and a rear-facing camera. The Nook wins this round with both cameras at 2MP (Mega Pixels).

The Fire has a 2MP rear-facing camera for taking photos or shooting 720p video, while the front-facing is only VGA resolution, at 1MP. While this is great for Skype calls, it would have been nice if Fire had used the same camera for both.

Audio – Fire

Hear the Fire take the lead on Audio with integrated dual stereo speakers featuring Dolby Atmos audio sound quality.

The Nook built-in stereo speakers didn’t have the same tonal quality that we liked in the Fire.

And for private listening, both offer the standard 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack to plug in your ear / headphones.

Connectivity – Fire

Both the Fire HD and the Nook come with built-in WiFi; The WiFi for both is 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac), Dual-Band (2.4GHz/5GHz) so you are covered for any configuration. The signal strength is good on both, and no issue with connecting to various networks.

These tablets offer the type of security you would expect for devices used on-the-go. Connecting to either a public or private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots, you have support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).

The Fire also has built-in Bluetooth with support for A2DP compatible stereo headphones, microphone, and LE (Low Energy) accessories. So you can stream audio to your wireless headphones, use a portable keyboard / mouse, or connect to other external devices.

Surprisingly the Nook doesn’t have Bluetooth.

Battery / Charging – Fire

With the Fire, you can expect up to 10 hours of battery life for a standard mix of playing videos, listening to streaming audio, surfing the web, emails and reading.

The Nook is rated for about 7 to 8.5 hours, depending on how much video you stream.

Both devices get back to a full charge in under 5 hours using the micro-USB power adapter (included with both).

Processor – Fire
Fire runs on a 1.8 GHZ quad-core MT8173B MediaTek processor with internal 2 GB RAM;  Two 1.8 GHz cores and two 1.4 GHz cores run simultaneously, delivering quick app launches, smooth games and videos, and great overall performance.

Barnes & Noble didn’t disclose which processor(s) they are using, although previous models have used OMAP (from Texas Instruments) and MediaTek, among othes.

Keyboard / Accessories – Fire
The Fire is open source for their hardware, so there are virtually an unlimited amount of keyboards, covers, docking stations and whatever anyone thinks up to connect to this tablet. An open systems means variety as well as price competition, so you can find some great deals.

Nook uses their proprietary “pogo-pin connectors” for a portable keyboard cover ($about $50) or docking station (about $75). The docking is nice, since you can keep the tablet charged / powered which watching videos or do hands-free-calling.

Cloud Storage – Tie

The Fire has free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content and photos taken with your Fire tablet.

Likewise, all of your Nook purchases are stored for free in the B&N Nook Cloud.

Books / Content – Fire
With Fire, Amazon lets you choose from their enormous library of eBooks, including more than a million titles under $4.99, and over a million titles at $2.99 or less. There are many thousands of authors that also publish Kindle books for $0 (e.g., free).

If you are Prime Member, each month you can download one of six editors’ picks for free (released before the official publication date). The downloaded titles are yours to keep, so even if you can’t finish the book in a month it’ll always be there for you later.

Amazon also offers the “Kindle Unlimited” service ($9.99 / month). It’s basically unlimited reading and unlimited audio book listening across all of your Amazon devices.

You can also subscribe to “Amazon Audible“, which lets you switch seamlessly between reading and listening via Bluetooth-enabled speakers or headphones. Audible offers more than 180,000 titles in audiobooks, including best sellers, romances, thrillers, and much more.

With millions of songs from thousands of artists, the “Amazon Digital Music Store” brings all your favorite music to your fingertips. Music you buy on your Fire tablet is saved to Your Music Library for free, and you can play or download it anytime. Unlock more music with Amazon Music Unlimited, just $7.99 per month for Prime members ($9.99 per month for non-Prime members).

For apps, Fire tablets feature instant access to over 600,000 of the most popular free and best-selling games, social media, premium TV and movie provider apps, and so much more. Choose from top titles including Candy Crush Saga, Township, Mobile Strike, and more.

The Nook, and with all B&N tablets, you get access to the their wealth of content. Choose from their vast library of eBooks, including more than a million titles under $4.99. If you are near a physical B&N store, you can read all of their content free for 1-hour every day. A nice bonus while enjoying some coffee or a snack in their cafe.

It also comes with Google Play, giving you access to millions of Android apps, games, movies, songs and more. So you always have your entertainment hub right at your fingertips, instantly accessible across devices wherever you go.

Accessibility Features – Fire

Fire has the “VoiceView” screen reader enables access to the vast majority of Fire tablet features for users who are blind or visually impaired using text-to-speech or a connected refreshable braille display.

Screen magnifier enables viewers to zoom in and out, and pan around the screen.

Fire tablets also include accessibility settings for Closed Captioning, Font Size, High Contrast Text, Color Inversion, Color Correction, and Convert Stereo to Mono audio.

Nook just has the screen magnifier type features.

AI – Tie

Nook can use Siri, but needs some configuration.

Fire, being Amazon, will of course have Alexa will all that she is capable of.

Dimensions – Tie

These are nearly identical, so much so that you would have a hard time telling them apart with your eyes closed.

Nook – 10.3″ x 6.22″ x 0.38″, 16.8 oz
Fire – 10.3″ x 6.3″ x 0.4″, 17.7 oz

Decision – Fire

The Fire tablet has a lot more going for it in terms of the device capabilities and features. But even more is what you get from the Amazon market place in terms of apps, books, music, videos and more. While the list price is a little higher, the Fire during the holidays is “on-fire” with their discounts to under price the other comparable tablets.

Order the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet before the sales end, or they run out of stock. It’ll be the best $100 you’ll spend this year!

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